TORONTO – Penguin Random House Canada is proud to announce the acquisition of a nonfiction work and a children’s picture book by Jesse Wente. The deal was brokered by Ron Eckel of the CookeMcDermid Agency with PRHC VP Scott Sellers; Penguin Canada VP Publisher Nicole Winstanley; and Tara Walker, VP Publisher of PRHC Young Readers.
A twenty-year pop culture columnist on CBC Radio, Jesse Wente is one of Canada’s most prominent and recognizable Indigenous voices. Like many First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people raised in large cities, Wente grew up disconnected from his culture, and it has taken him years to reconnect with his heritage. He brings a unique perspective to the Indigenous experience within Canadian society, one that can help bridge the gap of understanding.
Wente will explore his family’s history, including their encounters with residential schools, and show how their experience has shaped his perspective on contemporary Canada. Through personal anecdotes, he will relate his love of baseball, movies, and radio to such issues as cultural appropriation, Indigenous representation and identity, sports mascots, and Indigenous narrative sovereignty. The yet-to-be-titled memoir will be published in Fall 2019.
Publisher Nicole Winstanley said, “I’ve long respected Jesse Wente and I think his book will be a powerful, informed contribution to an important and long overdue national conversation.”
Penguin Publishing Director Diane Turbide, who will edit the book, added, “Jesse’s work in the media and his articulate, impassioned views have made him a national figure. We think that his unique perspective, combined with his incisive take on culture, politics, and social media, will make for a terrific book.”
Wente’s picture book will be published by Tundra Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers, in Fall 2020. Publisher Tara Walker, who acquired and will edit the book, believes that early reading material is critical to how children perceive their world. “Jesse stresses that it is the next generation of children who will advance the process of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples,” she said. “That’s why it’s so important to have First Nations storytellers giving voice to their own experiences in a way that’s enlightening and entertaining for all readers. We are simply delighted to be publishing this book.”